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Compromise Hatched: Medicaid Expansion Study Authorized

PHOTO: Medicaid expansion was approved in the compromise budget bill yesterday. Coverage could be available for about 18,000 Wyomingites in 2015. Photo credit: Wyoming.gov
PHOTO: Medicaid expansion was approved in the compromise budget bill yesterday. Coverage could be available for about 18,000 Wyomingites in 2015. Photo credit: Wyoming.gov
February 28, 2014

CHEYENNE, Wyo. - Wyoming may be the next state to accept federal Medicaid money to extend health insurance to people who fall into the coverage gap under the Affordable Care Act.

Legislators turned the idea down more than once, but it resurfaced in the compromise budget bill Thursday.

Dan Neal, executive director of the Equality State Policy Center, said he thinks testimony, emails and phone calls made a difference.

"They didn't want to see the state leave their tax money on the table, where it would end up in another state, helping another state's residents," he said.

He called the plan to move forward with a study for coverage next year a "compromise," and said there is some disappointment that the nearly 18,000 Wyomingites who are in the coverage gap will not be able to access insurance this year.

Neal said there will be a lot of work to do for Wyoming to craft its version of Medicaid under the ACA, but there's also assurance that progress will be made by November.

"We are encouraged that, in fact, the conferees from both the House and Senate seem to want to move ahead with at least an effort to see if they can't come up with a program that will work in Wyoming," he said.

Accepting the federal funding has been controversial, with pushback from legislators and others who doubt the federal government will continue its funding of the program. Federal support of states' Medicaid expansion is at 100 percent through 2016.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - WY